Waterbury Council Showcases Monument
The monumental bronze statue of Father McGivney that stands within a traffic island of a busy intersection was restored two years ago by the City of Waterbury, Conn., birthplace of the Order’s founder. Yet many city residents, including many Catholics, still did not know who the monument was dedicated to, and that bothered Frank Mirto, an 83-year-old member of Sheridan Council 24 in Waterbury.
“People drive by there every day, yet the name on the pedestal was covered by trees and shrubs,” he said. “I remember hearing one person say that he thought it was a statue of Christopher Columbus when he was a young man. Here he is, maybe to become the first American-born priest to become a saint, and people in his own city don’t know about Father McGivney.”
To remedy the situation, Mirto and his council had 5,000 copies of a homemade information card printed, featuring a photo of the statue of Father McGivney. The card includes basic biographical information about his birth, his founding of the Knights of Columbus, his parish assignments and his initial burial in a family plot in Old St. Joseph Cemetery in Waterbury. In 1982, with permission of surviving McGivney family members, the Knights of Columbus had the body exhumed and reinterred in a sarcophagus in St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where he founded the Order.
According to Grand Knight Bryan Baker, cards were distributed in Waterbury’s 18 Catholic churches, with 1,300 copies delivered to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, where Father McGivney offered his first Mass after ordination in 1877. Cards were also given to St. Mary’s Church and the two parishes where Father McGivney served as pastor before his death in 1890 – St. Thomas in Thomaston and Immaculate Conception in Terryville.
A Knight since 1953, Mirto has devoted much time and effort to making Father McGivney better known. “If I’ve got so much work to do for Father McGivney, then I better get going with the time the good Lord has given me,” he said.